Shabazz lectures on African, Latino plight

by Reena Dutta | 10/12/00 5:00am

As a part of this term's La Alianza Latina Fall Festival, Professor Haffizz Shabazz lectured Tuesday on "The African Diaspora of the Percussion Tradition."

Shabazz, an associate professor of music at the College, opened his lecture by speaking of slavery, and the many cultural legacies it left behind.

Shabazz talked about the more unfamiliar histories of slavery within Africa and Cuba.

Shabazz said Africans and Latinos in America share some of the same problems, including "internal oppression."

Shabazz said internal oppression is when an individual "oppresses" himself. He explained that it occurs within each person who has ever had to deal with the complicated past of their people.

Shabazz said he believes that both African Americans and Latinos lack a feeling of ownership in America. He also said America does not recognize the many achievements of African Americans and Latinos and therefore both races are left feeling like strangers in a foreign country. Professor Shabazz claims this feeling leads to a loss of pride and then, in turn, internalized oppression.

Shabazz stated that the darker the color of someone's skin, the further away he feels from people in the so-called "superior race." In his speech he said the simple solution for those who feel alienated is to unite.

He strongly encouraged minority groups, particularly African Americans and Latinos, to come together and communicate. He encouraged talking about issues that affect both races, such as poverty and socioeconomic issues. He insisted that both races have not only a right, but also an obligation to take ownership of America.

Shabazz then switched topics, addressing the power of music in bringing people together. He referred to "polyrhythms," which are a number of different rhythms played by many people, with a common pulse. In these rhythms, each person must do his part to keep the rhythm together and alive.

After this description, Shabazz played African rhythms on a type of drum called the djembe. He then requested members of the audience to pick up instruments and join the rhythm.

Soon most everyone in the small audience was holding an instrument and concentrating on the rhythm. The people without instruments clapped their hands.

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